The Central Okanagan Board of Education delayed implementation of an expanded French Immersion program in West Kelowna.
At the board meeting Wednesday, the trustees had a recommendation from the parks and facilities committee to open a Grade 4 middle entry French Immersion program at Rose Valley Elementary in September 2019 and have the students registered in that program be transitioned to Glenrosa Middle School for Grade 6.
But discussion on that resolution led to trustee Lee Mossman making a motion to defer the French Immersion expansion on the Westside back to committee for further consultation.
“No one would like to see a decision on this made quickly more than me as I have been involved in this debate for several years, but I would like to see this put back to committee for more information gathering and brought back to the board in September or October,” Mossman said.
Trustee Chris Gorman, chair of the parks and facilities committee, questioned the reasoning behind the delay.
“I’m not sure what the intention of the motion is. What more consultation needs to be done? We’ve been discussing this for the last year and a half staff have collected data to allow us to make an informed decision, and we had considerable debate about this at the last committee meeting on May 16.
“I feel it is time for a decision to be made. There needs to be some clarity about what’s going on. Where are we going? What do you want to see happen?”
Mossman wasn’t specific on more information might be needed beyond referring to comments from board chair Moyra Baxter about major decisions affecting the Westside—namely grade reconfiguration, French Immersion expansion and a revised five year capital plan raising the priority for a new high school in West Kelowna—being made in isolation of one another.
“With reconfiguration discussions in January, February and March, we were talking about removing portables from Rose Valley school as a benefit, and now here we are talking about adding more portables to Rose Valley to accommodate French Immersion expansion,” Baxter said.
“We need to look at these altogether in the big picture rather than each of them in isolation of the other.”
Baxter said there is no rush to make a decision now on French Immersion as the earliest implementation target was for September 2019.
“Lets stop and take the time to make a decision where the parents are consulted before we make a decision rather than giving them the information after the decision is made,” Baxter said.
Rose Valley parent Sarah Neukomm told the board she would like to see survey done that focuses on parents of primary school aged children, asking if they would enrol their kids in French Immersion and Rose Valley and how many would keep their children in the program past Grade 5 by transitioning to Glenrosa Middle School.
“Asking parents who already have their kids in French Immersion doesn’t really serve much purpose. I would hate to see the resources required to make this program offered and then see very few kids initially registered for it,” Neukomm said.
Baxter also alluded to the fact a French Immersion enrolment survey done 18 months ago shouldn’t be the basis for making a decision now. “It’s not really relevant now,” she said.
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